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Full text of "History And Human Relation"

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breathe, and even those who do not pretend to know any
history behind the days of their grandfathers are
dangerous sometimes, for they too are the slaves pf
unconscious assumptions or concealed perversities on
the subject of the past. From one point of view we
must say that none of us learns history—none of us ever
attains a final understanding or the kind of knowledge
in which he can safely rest. From another point of
view, however, we may say that there is great need for
history all the same, provided we conceive it as a process
of unlearning. Something can be achieved if we can
sweep away only a single layer of the tremendous crust
of error that already has the world under its grip*
Perhaps we may say that we sweep awŁy one layer of
error from our minds when we are at school; another
layer when we study history at the University; and a
further layer still if we reach so far as actual research.
Indeed, supposing we continue the study of history all
our lives we may sweep away a further kyer of this
crust of error every ten years, if we can keep our fresh-
ness of mind. But we do not complete the process.
We do not reach the stage when we can say that we
comprehend a particular subject in a final manner. For
this reason it is better that men, when they leave the
University, should forget the history of Louis XIV as
they learned it there, unless they are prepared to 'con-
tinue the process of " unlearning ", It is better that
they should not allow the knowledge to freeze in their
minds, while the world changes, and historical science
changes—better that they should not thirty years later
be holding too rigidly in their memory the things learned